Dwayne Johnson will finally play DC supervillain Black Adam in 2021... but he's already beginning to turn him into a hero. The wrestler turned movie star has been attached to play Black Adam for over a decade. Originally, the plan was for Johnson to debut in Shazam! as the main villain, but this was changed to give Black Adam a standalone film (and possible franchise) of his own.
Despite his absence in Shazam! earlier this year, the film did allude to Black Adam being part of the DCEU's history. The movie teased the former Champion selected by the Council of Wizards turned against the group and released the Seven Deadly Sins. With the similarities to Black Adam's role in the pages of DC Comics, it is believed that this will be the same origin given to Black Adam. Not only that, but the Black Adam movie could very well show this story and the creation of the ultra-powerful DC villain. But, it appears that Johnson is trying to reframe how general audiences perceive Black Adam to make him a hero instead.
The social media savvy star recently confirmed that Black Adam will hit theaters December 22, 2021, and in doing so began to let his 161 million Instagram followers know what to expect. Johnson teased the Superman-like power level that the DC foe has, but made one notable change to his persona. He said, "He’s a rebellious, one of a kind superhero, who’ll always do what’s right for the people - but he does it his way." It's a subtle part of the caption but by no means an accident: Black Adam is already being sold as a hero.
In the past, Johnson has referred to Black Adam as an "anti-hero" he was anxious to play, so this is a clear shift in the perception of the character. As one of the most recognizable actors currently working in Hollywood, it isn't too shocking to see Warner Bros., DC Films, and Johnson market Black Adam as another hero that Johnson will portray. He hasn't played a true villain in quite some time, and even though appeared Black Adam could change that, this indicates that he could be much more heroic than we previously anticipated. The question though then becomes just how much of a hero is Black Adam going to be?
There is a big difference between calling Black Adam a hero, an anti-hero, or a villain, which is why Johnson calling him a straight-up superhero is so noteworthy. Black Adam has had heroic moments and a sympathetic backstory in the comics, but his role in most stories show the ruthlessness he has. On paper, this DC role presents Johnson with a chance to play a darker character than audiences have seen him as in recent years and this announcement would be the perfect time to solidify "Dwayne Johnson plays a superpowered villain" as the hook. Instead, labeling Black Adam as a superhero may show the true intentions for the film.
To be fair, it's often said that the best villains believe that they are the heroes of their own stories. Since Black Adam does what he thinks is right however he feels it needs to be done, he could be the "hero" of Black Adam while becoming a DC villain down the line. Then again, this could be the result of how Black Adam has currently shaped up under director Jaume Collet-Serra. What this means for the possible throwdown between Johnson's Black Adam and Zachary Levi's Shazam remains to be seen, but don't be surprised if the crossover is to team them up instead.
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